Sir Peter Lampl

After attending a Surrey grammar school and graduating from Oxford University and London Business School, followed by a stint in management consulting and general management, Sir Peter Lampl built up a successful business in private equity in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sir Peter Lampl

Personal story

Returning from the US, Sir Peter was concerned to find that too many young people from low and middle income backgrounds seemed to be missing out on educational opportunities. As a successful entrepreneur and influenced by the giving culture in the US, he felt the need to give something back to society and wanted to focus on making a difference.

Sir Peter's first real experience of philanthropy was prompted by one of the most tragic events in recent British history. In 1996, 16 students and their teacher were killed in Dunblane, Scotland by a gunman using legally owned weapons. Moved by this terrible event, Sir Peter wanted to do something to help. He decided to offer anonymous financial support to a national campaign to ban the ownership of handguns, and was encouraged to see the impact of his philanthropy when a free vote in the House of Commons resulted in a law making it illegal to carry such arms in the UK.

The successful campaign demonstrated the potential of strategic philanthropy in advocating reform in public policy. With this in mind, in 1997 Sir Peter decided to focus his giving on education, and established The Sutton Trust to improve social mobility and narrow educational inequalities, stopping the resulting waste of talent.

"The philanthropic sector could be more dynamic and more engaged - shifting from a 'hands-off' approach to more strategic philanthropy"

The Trust takes a pragmatic approach.  " We are a do-tank", says Peter, "where we undertake reseach and fund programmes, thoroughly evaluating them so that they can be scaled up successfully." Since 1997, the Trust has commissioned over 120 research studies and funded over 200 programmes helping tens of thousands of young people and addressing social mobility.  "We've worked at every phase of a child and young person's development, from early years and secondary school, into university and professions."

The two best known Trust programmes are summer schools and Open Access. Summer schools encourage bright school students to apply to leading universities, including Oxbridge. With 1700 UK places a year at 9 top universities, the summer schools have recently extended to Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), helping students win places at top US universities. The Trust promotes Open Access admissions for independent schools on a needs blind basis and has successfully shown it can be done at Belvedere School in Liverpool.  90 leading independent day schools, approximately half the total, have said they would go Open Access if state funding were available It has also funded research and programmes in the early years, teaching, access to the professions and school admissions.

More recently, the Trust set up the Education Endowment Foundation, as the lead charity in partnership with impetus, to trial and scale up the most effective interventions to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils in challenging schools. It was awarded £135 from the Government to invest in developing successful solutions. The Trust successfully works with the media, politicians and policymakers to advance social mobility.

“Over 15 years, we have made a big difference to tens of thousands of young people, “ says Sir Peter. “We have also placed social mobility at the top of the political agenda of all the main parties. By becoming more strategic in our philanthropy, we are able to influence policy and governments to lever the innovative approaches piloted by the Trust."

Sir Peter sees his philanthropic engagement as a rewarding experience where maximum leverage is achieved through partnerships, research and interaction with government and educational institutions.

Updated February 2013

This personal story is tagged under

  • Awards
  • Education
  • Causes
  • Social welfare
  • Inspirational donations
  • Strategy advice
  • Trusts & foundations